Potential precipitating factors of esophageal variceal bleeding: a case-control study.Liao WC, Hou MC, Chang CJ, Lee FY, Lin HC, Lee SD. Am J Gastroenterol. 2011 Jan;106(1):96-103. OBJECTIVES: Valsalva maneuver-associated activities such as straining during defecation, vomiting, and cough are believed to cause abrupt increase in variceal pressure. Whether these actions can precipitate rupture of esophageal varices (EV) is unknown. The association of EV bleeding with these activities and other potential risk factors such as ingestion of alcohol and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs was investigated.METHODS: Between January 2003 and May 2009, 240 patients with liver cirrhosis and acute EV bleeding (group A) and 240 matched patients with Child-Pugh’s class and moderate size EV without bleeding (group B) were included. Each patient was questioned regarding constipation, vomiting, cough, and other potential risk factors in the week prior to index bleeding (group A) or endoscopy (group B) using a standard questionnaire.RESULTS: Group A had more patients with constipation (n=44 vs. n=16, P<0.001) and higher constipation scores (0.79 ± 1.67 vs. 0.25 ± 0.92, P<0.001) than group B. Group A also had more patients with vomiting (n=60 vs. n=33, P=0.002) and higher vomiting scores (3.0 ± 0.86 vs. 1.85 ± 0.87, P<0.001). No difference in cough existed between the two groups (n=77 group A vs. n=73 group B); however, group A had higher cough scores (5.08 ± 2.70 vs. 3.19 ± 2.23, P<0.001). Group A had more patients with excessive alcohol consumption in the week preceding inclusion in the study (n=58 vs. n=5, P<0.001). On multivariate analysis, constipation score and vomiting score and alcohol consumption were independent determinants of first EV bleeding. CONCLUSIONS: Constipation, vomiting, severe coughing, and excessive consumption of alcohol may precipitate rupture of EV. A prospective cohort study is required to clarify the causal relationship between potential precipitating factors and EV bleeding.